It’s that time of year – at least, in theory – that the sun comes out and British Columbians head for their favourite restaurant patio.
They can have their pick of what’s on the menu, but winemakers, restaurateurs, and consumers are using Twitter to fight for the right to BYOB – bring your own bottle.
The practice, known as corkage, is illegal in B.C. But provinces such as Alberta and Ontario allow people to bring their own bottle of wine into a restaurant.
This week’s Twitter event was held under the #BCWineChat hashtag and proved so popular that it trended in Vancouver, alongside such illuminating topics as #ghettojobinterviewquestions.
The chat was organized by Sandra Oldfield, owner and winemaker at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver. Ms. Oldfield has been hosting weekly Twitter chats since December, though she doesn’t routinely aim for the controversial.
“We don’t always want to sound like we’re whining,” she said, before quickly adding, “so to speak.”
Ms. Oldfield said letting customers bring their own, perhaps fancier wine would make special occasions that much more special. She said some restaurants in B.C. do let customers BYOB, but only on the hush-hush.
There was no shortage of Twitter users who said the antiquated policy should be changed.
As Meghan Darker put it: “Sometimes you find a beautiful bottle of wine, and just know that a restaurant makes its perfect match. Why keep them apart?”
Chambar, a Vancouver restaurant, tweeted: “We support BYOB, people should be able to bring a special bottle out & enjoy a great meal.”
Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for liquor sales, would not agree to an interview request Thursday. A ministry e-mail said the province is considering letting customers bring their own wine into restaurants but no decision has been made.
Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said his organization would support the change in policy. Mr. Tostenson said the industry would want to set its own corkage fees, instead of having them put in place by the province.
When asked what a reasonable fee for bringing an outside bottle into a restaurant would be, Mr. Tostenson said: “If your average bottle of wine, say, is $40 and a restaurant’s making $20, that’s probably not a bad target, in average terms.”